The SAIMM is a professional institute with local and international links aimed at assisting members source information about technological developments in the mining, metallurgical and related sectors.
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A monthly publication devoted to scientific transactions and specialist technical topics is unlikely to be on the priority reading list of the majority of the mining and metallurgical community. But it is the ambition of the Publication's Committee to make the Journal of much wider interest to our general membership from technician trainees to mine managers to CEO's of our constituent companies. It is to entice general readership that some 1200 words of valuable space are devoted to the Journal Comment each month. This is intended to highlight some of the features and impact of the papers to excite and activate attention.

To entice this preliminary glance before confining the publication to the book shelf or even the wpb, the author has to call on a large measure of journalistic licence in style, titles and quotations. It is essential to be spicy, controversial and even provocative to separate it from the abbreviated authoritative but necessary scientific style of the bulk of the contents.
The Journal Comment aims to be an enticement to dig into some important feature of the papers in the issue. For this reason it has been decided to include it as a separate item on the Institutes Web Site. This might provoke those who enjoy twittering, blogging and googling to submit comment and criticism, all of which will be welcomed and responded to. At least it is proof that somebody has read it.
R.E. Robinson

Extraction and Applications of Uranium – Present and Future

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The exhibition area at the conference

Discussions involving the 92nd element in the periodic table, uranium, tend to elicit mixed reactions. Although uranium plays a key role in the production of medical isotopes, it has the dark side of being the power in highly destructive nuclear weaponry. Strong positive and negative viewpoints emerge when nuclear reactors and their wastes are considered. Fortunately, the Uranium 2017 International Conference that took place in Swakopmund, Namibia (11 to 15 September 2017) did not generate quite such strongly opposed views.

The conference, with the theme Extraction and Applications of Uranium – Present and Future, brought together professionals in the uranium industry. A broad range of topics was discussed, ranging from mining to some of the applications of uranium, and included safety, as well as post-operations closure and remediation issues. Innovations in the extraction and applications of uranium are constantly being made, and the conference provided a platform for the discussion of advances and for generating new ideas.

The SAIMM Journal

b gencThe SAIMM organizes a number of conferences every year to promote technological developments in the mining- and metallurgy-related sectors. Selected papers from each of these conferences are published in the SAIMM Journal throughout the year. The SAIMM Journal is not only one of the top journals but also one of the most popular journals in the field of mining and metallurgy, and it continuously receives scientific papers from international researchers who wish to publish their output. The Publications Committee receives an average of 300 scientific research papers annually, and the current trends show that the numbers are increasing.

Every Journal edition has a theme that is usually associated with a specific conference topic, and every effort is made to include research papers on related topics that were submitted for consideration by the Journal in that specific edition. Despite these efforts, the Journal continues to have a backlog of research papers awaiting publication. It can take up to a year for a paper of general interest to appear in the Journal from the date that the paper is received. This is not a desirable situation, especially from an academic perspective, as researchers would like to see their findings published as quickly as possible.

The SAMREC/SAMVAL Companion Volume Conference

LombergThis edition of the Journal features papers that were presented at the SAMREC/SAMVAL Companion Volume Conference held on 17 and 18 May 2016 and attended by some 100 people. The intention of the conference was to provide Competent Persons and Competent Valuators with the opportunity to prepare and present details of recognized standards and industry benchmarks in all aspects of the SAMREC and SAMVAL Codes. These contributions were collated into a Companion Volume to provide a guideline for the declaration of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves, and the Valuation of Mineral Projects for South Africa.

The 6th Sulphur and Sulphuric Acid Conference

The 6th biennial Sulphuric Acid Conference and Workshop was held in Cape Town between 9 and 11 May 2017.

Approximately 90 delegates attended with regional representation from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and the DRC and from further afield with delegates from Germany, the USA, UK, The Netherlands, Canada, and Denmark. Delegates representing plant operations management, technical experts, traders, transporters, and vendors were all present.

Advanced Metals Initiative (AMI) is with great pleasure that we once again present the annual conference of the Advanced Metals Initiative (AMI). The AMI was established jointly by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the science councils, namely, Mintek, NECSA and the CSIR and has received generous funding from the DST since 2003. The principal objective of the AMI is to increase local industrialization through a research and development led initiative. In essence the AMI focuses on the downstream beneficiation of local resources and aims to achieve this through the development of materials, applications and technologies that enable the formation of new industries, enhance the competiveness of existing industries or localise the production of existing advanced and critical products. The AMI is split into four networks, each focused on specific local resources. We have the Precious Metals Development Network (PMDN) active in platinum group metals and gold, the Light Metals Development Network (LMDN) looking at aluminium and titanium, the Ferrous Metals Development Network (FMDN) considering iron and alloying base metals, and the Nuclear Metals Development Network (NMDN) advancing zirconium, hafnium and tantalum processes and products.

Hydrometallurgy Conference 2016

Selo Ndlovu 2017ʻSustainable Hydrometallurgical Extraction of Metalsʼ

This edition of the Journal features papers that were presented at the Hydrometallurgy Conference, which was held from 31 July to 3 August 2016. The theme of the conference was ‘Sustainable Hydrometallurgical Extraction of Metals’ and it was attended by 150 delegates from around the world. The conference was organized in collaboration with the Western Cape Branch.

The conference was preceded by a workshop on ‘Test work and its importance in metallurgical design’. Topics presented at the workshop included a review of existing models for process and project development, process test work, flow sheet selection, simulation models, and case studies. The workshop was very well attended by industry delegates, academics, and students.

We have a Problem?

I start my Journal Comment with the iconic phrase: ‘Houston, we have a problem’. Those with good memories might just recall that these were the words spoken by astronaut Jack Swigert during the aborted Apollo 13 moon mission, when he reported to ground control an undervoltage on the capsule bus. At least that’s what I recall he said.

Something in the back of my mind suggested that it might just be prudent to check the correctness of the quotation. The words were actually spoken by Kevin Bacon who starred as Jack Swigert in the movie ‘Apollo 13’. What Swigert actually said was: ‘OK, Houston, we’ve had a problem here’. Close enough – I prefer the movie version!

Focus on the Heavy Minerals Conference held at Sun City from 16–18 August 2016

The papers in this issue of the Journal are selected from the Heavy Minerals Conference held at Sun City from 16–18 August 2016. This conference, which has been held every two years since 1997, is the main technically focused conference covering the heavy minerals industry. The venue moves between various countries where heavy minerals processing is important. The 2016 conference, the 10th in the series, was attended by representatives from 17 countries covering all the major continents.

University of South Africa (UNISA)

This issue contains just one paper from the University of South Africa (UNISA), the only South African university offering mining engineering and mine surveying by open distance learning. Lugoma explores the possibility of supplementing online course content with oncampus practical sessions. The encouraging findings have prompted him to roll out this approach to education so as to enable students to familiarize themselves with mine surveying equipment before they begin their professional careers.

Mining, Environment and Society Conference

        Major issue areas for mining and the SDGs (

The papers in this issue of the Journal are selected from the Mining, Environment and Society Conference, held at Mintek on 12 and 13 May 2015. The two keynote addresses, 14 presentations, and two panel discussions highlighted the increasing relevance of environmental and social issues to the mining sector and its sustainability.